Author Archive: Chris - The Organic Diabetic
As a type 1 diabetic, I made the switch to an organic lifestyle several years ago after being diagnosed with Diabetes in 2006. Living with diabetes is hard enough, why make it more difficult by consuming products with chemicals, toxins and other harmful, unhealthy ingredients. To me, the choice was easy and just made sense. We hope you enjoy our blog! Feel free to look around and check out all of our products by clicking through the tabs above! Thanks for stopping by and also please be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter by liking our pages below! You never know what freebies we will be giving away!! Don't forget to check out the website as well at www.theorganicdiabetic.org
Most of you already know that I love to exercise. My day starts out at 4am, early yes, but its the only time that I get to myself during the day. As a stay at home dad of 4, I consider this a small sacrifice for my sanity as well as to benefit my bottom line as a type 1 diabetic, my health!
What makes exercise so important? Well I think we all know the answer to that question as there are so many benefits including better control of our overall blood sugars. There is a list of exercises you can do, but lets take a closer look at how you can exercise safely for better control!
Diabetes And Exercise:
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetes and exercise should go hand in hand, at least when it comes to the management aspect of the disease. Not only can exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control, boost your overall fitness, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, provide more stable blood sugar readings, and help lower blood pressure ~ all risk factors that we face.
While exercise is great for us and the benefits are well documented, as diabetics it also poses some unique challenges. To exercise safely, it’s crucial to track your blood sugar before, during and after physical activity. You’ll learn how your body responds to exercise, which can help you prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.
Exercise And High Blood Sugars?
This was one of the biggest hurdles for me when I was first diagnosed. My numbers would skyrocket after a workout or even during a gym session. The issue is that exercise triggers the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline. Adrenaline tells the liver to release glucose, or cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin, and since strenuous activity triggers an increase in these stress hormones, chances are (even temporarily) your blood sugars are often increased.
That being said different exercises affect us differently and we also know that we’re all very unique, and lets face it, type 1 diabetes effects everyone differently and no situations are ever the same. Our blood sugar response to exercise will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of high intensity interval training will bring different results than an hour of running, doing the stair climber or even walking the dog so it will be important to closely monitor your blood sugars during exercise and see how these activity levels effect you.
So the other day I fielded a question about celiac disease and if there is a direct correlation between having celiac and type 1 diabetes. A great question as more type 1 diabetics seem to be diagnosed with celiac disease after their type 1 diagnosis. So what’s the deal with celiac disease? What is it exactly and what can be done to help alleviate the symptoms? Lets take a closer look!
What Is Celiac Disease:
Celiac disease is a digestive illness that occurs due to the ingestion of gluten. If you have celiac disease, your intestines cannot tolerate the presence of gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats foods with gluten, such as bread or cereal, their immune system inappropriately reacts to the ingested gluten and causes inflammation and injury to the small intestine. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss, as well as an inability to absorb important food nutrients.
Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes:
So what’s the deal when it comes to type 1 diabetes and a celiac disease diagnosis? While there doesn’t appear to be a direct link between type 2 diabetes and celiac that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to type 1.
Per the celiac disease foundation:
“The link between type 1 diabetes mellitus and celiac disease was first established in the 1960s. The estimated prevalence of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes is approximately 8%, and about 1% in the general population. Most patients with both conditions have asymptomatic celiac disease, or symptoms that may be confused for symptoms of their diabetes. For this reason, and the significantly higher prevalence rate of celiac disease in diabetes patients, many doctors recommend getting screened for celiac disease after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as well as celiac patients getting screened for type 1 diabetes.
A recent study in 2013, contributed to by Dr. Peter Green, a member of Celiac Disease Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board found that there were no standard uniform practices for screening type 1 diabetes patients for celiac disease. Of the facilities in the study that did screen for celiac disease, 60% of them only did so if there were symptoms present. The authors of the study suggested that a uniform protocol for screening should be in place, as well as a need for further education on the gluten-free diet in patients with type 1 diabetes for dietitians.”(1)
The unfortunate part of this is that once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes, you become prone to developing others. As for the signs, symptoms and treatment options, lets take a look.
Symptoms Of Celiac Disease:
Celiac disease symptoms typically involve the intestines and digestive system. They can also affect other parts of the body and children as well as adults tend to have a different set of symptoms. Those symptoms are as follows:
Celiac Disease Symptoms in Children:
Children with celiac disease can feel tired and irritable. They may also be smaller than normal and have delayed puberty. Other common symptoms include:
- weight loss
- abdominal bloating
- abdominal pain
- persistent diarrhea or constipation
- pale, fatty, foul-smelling stools
How To Diagnose Celiac Disease In Adults
Adults with celiac disease may experience digestive symptoms. In most cases, however, symptoms also affect other areas of the body. These symptoms may include:
- iron-deficiency anemia
- joint pain and stiffness
- weak, brittle bones
- skin disorders
- numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- pale sores inside the mouth
- irregular menstrual periods
- infertility and miscarriage
I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately in regards to the health benefits of chia seeds and more importantly what are chia seeds? Well, if your looking for a great way to boost your energy and add some protein to your diet, or boost your omega 3 intake, look no further.
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names.
Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States. These gems are fantastic in so many ways, what makes chia seeds so powerful? Lets take a closer look!
Skip The Coffee And Boost Energy:
Don’t want to feel like taking an afternoon nap? Your energy levels have a lot to do with what you eat. Chia is one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. Usually protein from items like peanut butter and some beans are incomplete, meaning you have to combine them with other foods to get the full benefit. Not Chia though, it’s protein is complete to raise your energy levels. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.
Chia Seeds And Weight Loss:
Chia seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber in chia absorbs water and expands to form a gel that fills you up faster, so you consume fewer calories, hence weight loss. Fiber and protein slow the digestive process so hunger isn’t triggered as quickly as with sugars, starches and other simple carbohydrates. The insoluble fiber, which does not digest, aids in preventing constipation and digestive disorders by cleaning the colon.
While you’re catching some rays this up coming summer, think about vitamin D. Sometimes its called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight, but what about vitamin D3? Is it as simple as getting out into the sun and voila, vitamin D3! I mean, what is vitamin D3 anyway? How much vitamin D3 should I take?
Did you know that the human skin makes vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun? According to the National Institute of Health, some of the best food source for vitamin D3 are fish products, such as: cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and sardines. With that being said, lets take a closer look at how vitamin D3 can benefit you.
Vitamin D3 Benefits:
Vitamin D3 promotes calcium’s absorption and functions for teen’s and children’s healthy teeth and bones, prevents loss of bone mass, and treats bone disorders.
It protects against adult and elderly muscle weakness and immune system issues, and lowers the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis is improved with vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 has been show to prevent/treat rickets, post menopausal osteoporosis. The vitamin also been show to help treat multiple sclerosis. Something that I found extremely interesting is that they are still conducting studies (more research is definitely needed) seeing if there is a connection between lack of Vitamin D3 and the development of Type 1 diabetes.
Benefits of D3 in the elderly and fractures are still under investigation. An analysis, reported in August 2007 by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center, showed higher doses of vitamin D3 of between 700-800 IU’s per day combined with calcium help prevent hip fractures for institutionalized elderly. The study did not include elderly living independently in the community.
Vitamin D3 And Your Immune System:
Cells of the immune system, such as macrophages, which hunt the body for dangerous pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and cancer cells, have receptor sites for vitamin D3. Research suggest that D3 may play a role in stimulating these cells to be more active in their hunt for disease-causing microbes and act as an immunity booster especially during the winter months when sunlight is more scarce.
I just love flaxseed, and one I supplement with daily. Flaxseed has an amazing amount of benefits to help promote overall health. In saying that, how can one find flaxseed? What actual benefits does organic flaxseed provide? Can it help prevent your blood sugars from spiking? For that and much, much more, continue reading!
Flaxseed oil is an excellent supplement that supports the body’s vital systems. It is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Although omega-3s are crucial to human health, they are not manufactured by the body, so it’s important to get a steady supply through dietary sources and supplements.
There are two types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Most Americans get enough omega-6 fatty acids from dietary sources such as meat, eggs and dairy. Omega-3s are necessary for growth, heart health and brain function, but many of us do not get enough of them from dietary sources. MayoClinic.com reports that multiple studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These supplements have also been studied as a treatment for depression and other mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD, osteoporosis, and even cancer prevention.
Benefits Of Flaxseed:
Flaxseed oil offers a wide range of health benefits. There are some studies showing that flaxseed oil can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotien also known as bad cholesterol). This, however, is dependent on how well the alpha-linolenic acid is broken down into EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil is likely to make platelets less sticky, which could help to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Flaxseed may also lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels (fat in the blood). Flaxseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to regulate the heartbeat, further supporting good cardiovascular health. In addition, the flax seed contains compounds called lignans. Studies show that patients taking lignans had a 75% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque buildup.
Flaxseed itself is recommended for those who suffer from Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome because it is thought to be able to heal the lining of the stomach and reduce inflammation.
The ALA found in flaxseed inhibited tumor growth and incidence in animal studies. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed are thought to bind to estrogen receptors, reducing the risk of estrogen driven breast cancer.
Ok, lets face it, the majority of us (me included) don’t even come close to getting our recommended daily allowance of vegetables each day. One vegetable that we should really try to incorporate into our diets is kale! There are not to many super foods out there, but this is certainly one that packs a nutritional punch.
Many people ask, what is kale? The health benefits of are being reported in major outlets, whether the general media or scientific journals. The light that is currently being shed on kale is that it is one of the most potent health promoting vegetables known to man. Kale is similar to other nutritional powerhouses, especially cabbage relatives like broccoli. However, it doesn’t resemble broccoli in appearance, having lovely dark green leaves instead of a miniature tree-like look. Kale is also a low-glycemic food. If someone is trying to lose weight, then this vegetable should be part of their diet.
Why Should Kale Vegetable Be In Your Diet?
The health benefits of kale are attributed to sulfur-containing phytonutrients. These substances, according to research, appear to be able to reduce the occurrence of numerous types of cancers. The exact mechanism is unclear, but researchers have concluded that such compounds in kale may trigger enzymes in the body that help to counter cancer promoting substances.
Kale, therefore, seems a great addition to any anti-cancer diet.Its benefits don’t just end there, however. Kale is also an excellent source of fiber, which is an important consideration for the millions of people who suffer from elevated cholesterol levels and in helping cleanse the colon. Many people, when they think of sources of calcium, believe dairy products are the best choice. But the truth of the matter is that dark leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are better sources of calcium. Another important consideration is that kale is extremely sparse on calories, has no saturated fat, and does not cause widespread allergic reactions like many diary products do. In short, with kale, you can obtain your needed calcium without the guilt.
I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of “hot/spicy foods”, but I love cayenne pepper, well, in the right quantity, LOL! Cayenne pepper (aka capsicum) is used in a variety of ways for both cooking and medicinal purposes. There are a number of ways you can incorporate cayenne pepper and cayenne pepper capsules into your daily diet.
Your metabolism can be boosted in a number of different ways through the consumption of spicy foods, but the key is eating the right spices, in the right quantities, and through the right foods, so lets take a closer look!
Cayenne Pepper And Hypertension:
Cayenne pepper helps to make blood pressure levels normal. It regulates the flow of blood from the head to the foot and equalizes blood pressure. It also equalizes blood pressure in the arteries and veins instantly. It removes blockages present in the arteries and thus, improves the flow of blood. Since cayenne pepper reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, it simultaneously lowers the risk of hypertension.
Cayenne Pepper Weight Loss:
The main active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. It is said to be a “thermogenic chemical” which will help speed your metabolism and decrease your appetite. It’s actually a wonderful herb. It not only can promote weight loss, but it does many other wonderful things such as: increase blood flow, maintains healthy blood pressure, increase your sex drive, may help reduce ulcers and promotes a healthy digestive system.
Cayenne Pepper And Pain Relief:
Per the University Of Maryland medical center, capsaicin has very powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin. It reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain, in your body. When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain, and you feel relief. Capsaicin is often recommended for the following conditions:
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as joint or muscle pain from fibromyalgia or other causes
- Nerve pain from shingles and other painful skin conditions (postherpetic neuralgia) that happens even after the skin blisters have gone away. Research is mixed, and it may be that it works for some people and not others. Check with your doctor to see if trying capsaicin ointment is right for you.
- Pain after surgery, such as a mastectomy or an amputation
- Has shown to assist in pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, check out the study here.
- Low back pain. Several studies suggest capsaicin cream can reduce lower back pain.
So we’ve all dealt with the symptoms, shaky, lethargic, confused, sweaty and the list goes on and on but what happens when we don’t realize or notice these symptoms? People who don’t have diabetes start to feel hypoglycemic when their blood glucose reaches 50- 55 mg/dl. In people who have diabetes, hypoglycemia can’t really be defined as a specific blood glucose level, because the point at which they feel “low” changes, depending on their usual BG level.
So, individuals who are not properly controlled can “feel low” at normal or high BG levels, and individuals whose blood glucose runs consistently in the low-normal range and have frequent hypoglycemia may not “feel low” until their BG falls to a dangerously low level. This has happened to me once and it was not fun. So lets take a look at what hypoglycemia unawareness is and what we can do prevent it!
Hypoglycemia Unawareness Causes:
Hypoglycemia unawareness is actually quite common. It happens to me and that’s why I am so grateful for my dexcom. Studies show that 17 percent of us with Type 1 diabetes suffer from some sort of hypoglycemia unawareness. Symptoms of a low blood sugar become less obvious after having diabetes for several years because repeated lows tend to impair the body’s release of stress hormones. As we are probably aware at this point, or maybe not if your newly diagnosed, the major counter-regulatory hormone that causes glucose to be released by the liver to raise the blood sugar is glucagon, but is reduced in most people who have Type 1 diabetes within the first two to ten years after diagnosis.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of an unacknowledged low because the mind becomes less capable of recognizing what’s happening, the liver is blocked from creating glucose needed to raise the blood sugar, and free fatty acid (the backup to glucose for fuel) release is also blocked. These factors make symptoms milder and harder to recognize and personally after a couple trips to the ER due to severe low blood sugars…lets just say I’m not a fan of alcohol any longer.
As diabetics, glucagon plays a vital role in part of our overall management and as I experienced a couple weeks ago, it can save your life. As a type 1 diabetic, I’m very well versed on how this works (unfortunately), and why it is so important and how it can keep us out of emergent situations or in my case, help you come out of a diabetic seizure.
So for all the newly diagnosed diabetics out there, young and old, what is glucagon? What is it so important that we should have it on us at all time, wherever we go? Lets take a closer look!
What Is Glucagon:
Glucagon is a hormone (like insulin) that is naturally made in the pancreas. The pancreas produces this hormone when the body needs to put more sugar (glucose) in the blood to be used for energy. Glucagon raises the blood sugar by sending a signal to the liver and muscles (where your body naturally stores glucose) to release glucose.
The difference between the two, is that insulin lowers your blood glucose (sugar) by helping your body use the glucose in the blood for energy. Glucagon raises your blood glucose (sugar) by causing the liver and muscles to release stored glucose quickly. Though glucagon helps raise the level of glucose in the blood, it is not considered a sugar.
In its simplest form per Lilly, one of the manufactures of glucagon kits:
Glucagon is a medicine that’s different from insulin. It’s used to treat severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Glucagon works by telling your body to release sugar into the bloodstream to bring the blood sugar level back up.
The Role Of Glucagon In The Body:
Glucagon plays an active role in allowing the body to regulate the utilization of glucose and fats.
Glucagon is released in response to low blood glucose levels and to events whereby the body needs additional glucose, such as in response to vigorous exercise.
When glucagon is released it can perform the following tasks:
- Stimulating the liver to break down glycogen to be released into the blood as glucose
- Activating gluconeogenesis, the conversion of amino acids into glucose
- Breaking down stored fat (triglycerides) into fatty acids for use as fuel by cells
Insulin And Glucagon:
Glucagon is usually given by injection beneath the skin, in the muscle, or in the vein. It comes as a powder and liquid that will need to be mixed just before administering the dose. Instructions for mixing and giving the injection are in the package. Glucagon should be administered as soon as possible after discovering that the patient is unconscious from low blood sugar. After the injection, the patient should be turned onto the side to prevent choking if they vomit. Once the injection has been given, contact your doctor. It is very important that all patients have a household member who knows the symptoms of low blood sugar and how to administer glucagon.
If you have low blood sugar often, keep a glucagon kit with you at all times. You should be able to recognize some of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (i.e., shakiness, dizziness or lightheadedness, sweating, confusion, nervousness or irritability, sudden changes in behavior or mood, headache, numbness or tingling around the mouth, weakness, pale skin, sudden hunger, clumsy or jerky movements). Try to eat or drink a food or beverage with sugar in it, such as hard candy or fruit juice, before it is necessary to administer.
The other day I was asked a question if diabetics were more susceptible to developing high blood pressure? After doing a some research, it appears that diabetes and hypertension frequently occur together and there seems to be a direct correlation between the two.
Certain factors such as obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress, even insulin resistance are thought to be the common causes, but recent advances have shed new light as to what causes high blood pressure and what should be done to make it more manageable.
Physical activity plays an important protective role in the two diseases and knowing the common causes and disease mechanisms allows for a more effective and proactive approach in managing both diabetes as well as high blood pressure, so lets take a closer look!
What Causes Hypertension?
High blood pressure that has no known cause is termed primary hypertension (or essential hypertension). This is more common than secondary hypertension, which has an identified cause such as chronic kidney disease.
Primary hypertension is unlikely to have a specific cause but multiple factors, including blood plasma volume and activity of the renin-angiotensin system, the hormonal regulator of blood volume and pressure – and primary hypertension is affected by environmental factors.
Secondary hypertension has specific causes – that is, it is secondary to another problem. One example, thought to be the most common, is primary aldosteronism, a hormone disorder causing an imbalance between potassium and sodium levels.
Common reversible causes are things such as excessive intake of alcohol and use of oral contraceptives, which can cause a slight rise in blood pressure. Also, hormone therapy for menopause (while it might be slight) has also been shown to raise blood pressure, so make it appoint to chat with your doctor.
Additional examples also include:
- Kidney disease
- Pheochromocytoma (a cancer)
- Cushings syndrome (which can be caused by use of corticosteroid drugs)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (disorder of the adrenal glands, which secrete the hormone cortisol)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
Symptoms Of Hypertension:
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels, which can be kind of scary.
A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re age 18-39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference.
Hypertension, What Should Your BP Be?
Blood pressure readings vary, but most people with diabetes should have a reading of no more than 140/80. The first, or top, number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heartbeats and fills the arteries with blood. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats, filling itself with blood for the next contraction.
When it comes to preventing diabetes complications, normal blood pressure is as important as good control of your blood sugar levels.